Did You Know . . . ?

The Further Adventures of Sherlock HolmesIn 1942 it was announced that an unpublished Sherlock Holmes story had been found among some of Arthur Conan Doyle’s papers. His family noted that it was typed rather than handwritten, and asserted that it was definitely not written by Doyle. Somehow Cosmopolitan magazine obtained a copy of the story and published it in 1948. Soon thereafter London’s Sunday Dispatch magazine also published it.   It finally came to light that an architect named Arthur Whitaker wrote it and sent it to Arthur Conan Doyle in 1911 with the idea that they would publish it under both their names. Doyle’s family doubted Whitaker’s story until he produced a carbon copy of the typewritten story that they had found.

“The Adventure of the Sheffield Banker” is the title of the story as it appears in the Penguin book The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1986) collected and edited by Richard Lancelyn Green.

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Nahum Tate (1652 – 1715) was an Irish poet, hymnist, and lyricist who became England’s poet laureate in 1692. In 1681 Tate rewrote William Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear, and gave it a very different ending. In Tate’s reworking Lear doesn’t walk onto the stage at the end of the play carrying the corpse of his daughter Cordelia because in Tate’s version Cordelia marries Edgar and lives happily ever after as does King Lear who regains his throne. Some criticized Tate’s version, but many, including Samuel Johnson, approved of it. In fact, Tate’s version was more popular on stage than Shakespeare’s version until 1838.

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James Joyce’s novel Ulysses is set on June 16, 1904 – the day he began dating his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle. June 16th is commonly referred to as Bloomsday in honor of Joyce’s novel and its protagonist Leopold Bloom.

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D. H. Lawrence’s wife, Frieda Freiin von Richthofen, was a German literary figure who was, at least in part, the inspiration for the title character in his novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover. She was also distantly related to Manfred von Richthofen the famous World War I German fighter pilot who was better known as “the Red Baron.”

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Moll FlandersDaniel Defoe (1660 – 1731) is best known for his novel Robinson Crusoe which was published in 1719. It is the story of a man marooned on an island for many years. Crusoe is ingenious, so he turns the island into a paradise of sorts.

Moll Flanders, the other Defoe novel you may be familiar with, was published in 1722 and has been criticized and banned many times in many places because of its racy heroine. To understand why it has been attacked you only have to read its full title: The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, &c. Who was Born in Newgate, and during a Life of continu’d Variety for Threescore Years, besides her Childhood, was Twelve Year a Whore, five times a Wife (whereof once to her own Brother), Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon in Virginia, at last grew Rich, liv’d Honest, and died a Penitent. Written from her own Memorandums.

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Psycho, probably Alfred Hitchcock’s best known film, was adapted from the book of the same name by Robert Bloch (1917 – 1994). For years Bloch wrote stories of the supernatural for pulp magazines such as Weird Tales, but at a point he says he “realized as a result of what went on during World War II and of reading the more widely disseminated work in psychology, that the real horror is not in the shadows, but in that twisted little world inside our own skulls.” That’s when he started writing about psychopaths.

In 1957 police in Plainsfield, Wisconsin found the nude, headless body of a woman hanging by its heels in a shed owned by Ed Gain. Her heart was found in a coffee can on the stove. Knowing only the facts that were in the media, Bloch imagined a character who, he thought, might have been like Gain. In 1959 he published Psycho. Some years later Bloch learned to his amazement that the psychological makeup of his imaginary character, Norman Bates, paralleled that of Ed Gain.

Bloch wrote many books after Psycho including American Gothic (1974), the story of a serial killer named G. Gordon Gregg. It was based on a real-life serial killer named H. H. Holmes. (The 1988 movie of the same name is not based on Bloch’s book.)

Additionally, he wrote the scripts for various programs during the heyday of radio, and later wrote scripts for movies, and television programs (including three episodes of Star Trek).

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Stanley Martin Lieber began his writing career in the realm of comic books. He aspired to write serious books one day and wanted to save his real name for that, so he chose the name “Stan Lee” as his comic book pseudonym. As time passed he became so famous in the world of comic books that he decided to legally change his name to Stan Lee. Larry D. Lieber, Lee’s younger brother, is also a comic book writer and artist.

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